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Special Observance: National African-American/Black History Month

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Candice Compton
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Equal Opportunity

Have you ever wondered why National African-American History Month is celebrated in February or what started it all? Referred to as "The Father of Black History," Carter G. Woodson paved the way and laid the foundation for what is now called National African-American History Month. It began in 1926 as "Negro History Week," a one-week celebration to promote the value of the African-Americans in history. In 1976, President Gerald Ford issued the first presidential proclamation for the observance. The presidential proclamation gave way to February being a month-long celebration. February was chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two pioneers that forged the path for Civil Rights.

This year's theme is "The Crisis in Black Education." African-Americans have been involved in an ongoing civil rights struggle since first arriving in America on the shores of Virginia in 1619. Segregation, racial exclusion and discrimination remain horrific historical legacies of the United States dating back to the late 1800s. By 1896 the world of “separate but equal” was changed in the Plessy vs. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court case. In 1954, Brown vs. Board of Education laid down the legal groundwork for racial integration in our public school systems. This was the birth of multicultural education. The American identity began to expand beyond a static Anglo-White culture to an ever-changing, culturally open-ended democratic society.

The Department of Education’s National Center for Education 2016 Statistics Report shows that for public schools, “the percentages of students in low-poverty and high poverty schools varied by race and ethnicity. Twenty-nine percent of white students live in low-poverty compared to seven percent of black students. In contrast, 45 percent of black students attended high-poverty public schools as opposed to eight percent of white students. The finding for overall postsecondary enrollment are similar to those for enrollment in bachelor’s degree programs. Enrollment was higher for white students at 39 percent enrollment; for black students, 24 percent.”

Congress requires these reports to be annually released to policymakers and the American public to keep them informed about trends, conditions and progress of education in the United States. The past causes the present, and so the future. History helps us understand change and how the society we live in came to be. In an attempt to restore equality and justice, Booker T. Washington said, "success always leaves footprints.” African-Americans carry on making a mark through individual and collective contributions to community life in the United States and around the globe. Still, as a nation we have many steps to go to achieve educational equality. It is an important goal to set in continuing to address the crisis in black education in American’s past, present, and future.

If you are interested in learning more about African-American History, consider attending these events:

·         Entire month of February: Display of books and literature on and by African-American authors at the Base Library. 

·         February 10: Red Tails (PG-13) is showing at1900 hrs in the Base Theater with a 15 minute intro/presentation by the Base Historian. 

·         February 15: The 27th SOW History Office will be conducting the Wing’s second Air Force heritage off-site tour in New Mexico. For more information please contact Mr. Steven Frank at 575-784-7839. 

·         February 24: Glory (R) is showing at 1900 hrs in the Base Theater with a 15 minute intro/presentation by the Base Historian. 

·         July 14: The 27th SOW hosts our annual Cultural Day.